What you need to know

  • Buying second-hand can be a great way to keep costs down when you have a child.
  • Some baby items like baby walkers and cots must comply with mandatory product standards even if second hand. Other items may have voluntary standards. The products that meet these standards will be safer to use.
  • We don't recommend buying second-hand car seats or second-hand breast pumps.

General advice on buying second-hand baby equipment

Starting a family is an exciting time not only for you, but also for your whānau and friends. It’s when cute baby clothes and boxes of hand-me-downs start appearing on your doorstep, maybe along with some of your own childhood toys and the very bassinet you slept in! But there are some things you need to do to make sure your second-hand baby equipment is safe to use.

Make sure you get the instruction booklet, and that it’s for the right make and model of the item. If it doesn’t have one, make sure you can check the manufacturer’s instructions online to make sure there’s been no changes made. It’s important you know how to assemble, fold down or install your item correctly.

Check for:

  • whether it meets any required safety standards
  • loose screws or joints
  • open ended tubes, hinges with gaps, or any spaces or holes that could trap baby’s head, fingers or toes
  • worn, missing or broken parts
  • fabric that is worn or not attached properly to the frame
  • broken straps or buckles
  • rough edges, sharp points or splinters.

Following manufacturers’ instructions reduces the risk of injury to your baby.

Second-hand toys

Toys sold in New Zealand must meet the mandatory safety standard AS/NZS ISO 8124.1 which covers all toys for children under three.

  • Your baby will put toys in their mouth (it's part of how they discover the world) so make sure you clean second-hand toys with detergent and rinse them well before use.
  • Avoid buying soft toys – they’re hard to keep clean. If you’re given used soft toys, wash them in the washing machine before use.
  • Toys need to be complete and have no small parts that could choke your baby. Toys and parts of toys should be more than 35mm wide to reduce the risk of choking.
  • Generally speaking, the smaller the child, the bigger the toy should be.
Toy safety

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Second-hand clothing

Buying second-hand clothes or being given hand-me-down clothing can be great.

  • Check that nightwear is going to be snug fitting. Buying pyjamas that fit your baby snugly, rather than be too big will reduce the risk of them catching fire. There are mandatory safety standards for children’s nightwear that apply to second-hand nightwear too. 
  • Check for loose threads on clothing, because these can get caught around fingers and toes.
  • Any ties on clothing can be a strangulation hazard.
  • Wash and dry clothing before use.
Standards for children's nightwear

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Second-hand feeding equipment

Breast pumps

A second-hand breast pump may be a lot cheaper than a new one, but there are health implications and it isn’t something we would recommend.

You need to take care and be confident that all of the parts can be sterilised before use. Home sterilisation methods aren’t always good enough to make sure all germs are destroyed, especially in the rubber parts. These parts may also have become worn, but it may be hard to see.

You could consider buying an electronic breast pump mechanism second-hand, but buying new plastic attachments.

Bottles (glass or plastic)

It’s good to know how and where the bottles have been used in the past, along with the type and who manufactured them.

Glass bottles can generally be reused as long as they are completely intact.

Plastic bottles need to be replaced regularly according to manufacturer’s instructions, generally within 12 months. It can be hard to know how old a second-hand bottle is or how often it was used, so ask the seller. Also check that all plastic bottles are BPA free.

Never use a bottle if:

  • it’s chipped or cracked
  • measurements are hard to read
  • attachments (teats and collars) don’t fit properly
  • glass appears cloudy or scratched
  • you have no idea what the bottle has been used for.

Second-hand car seats

Under New Zealand law, all children under seven years must use a car seat (child restraint) that’s appropriate for their age, size and development. They can’t travel in a vehicle if you can’t put them in an approved child seat. A child aged seven must still use an approved child seat if one is available.

Be wary of purchasing or borrowing a second-hand car seat. 

Child car seats buying guide

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Second-hand prams and strollers

Your baby or child will spend a lot of time in their pram or stroller, so make sure it’s a good, safe one.

Check that:

  • your stroller meets a standard – the most common is AS/NZS 2088:2000
  • there are two locking devices to stop it from folding
  • the brakes are in excellent working condition and are easy to operate
  • instructions are included, or you can find them online – and you follow them
  • the harness will firmly restrain your child – a five-point harness is best
  • the buckle on the harness is intact (not cracked or broken) and works
  • there aren’t any sharp edges or open tubes
  • removable pieces can be fastened securely
  • fabric and linings fit snugly and don't contain gaps or hidden pockets that baby can get trapped in.
Product safety - prams and strollers

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Second-hand cots, bassinets and portacots

There are mandatory safety standards for cots, but no mandatory standards for portacots and bassinets.

Read more about second-hand baby beds here.

Keeping kids safe: Cots

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Second-hand highchairs

Look for a highchair that has:

  • a wide base that’ll stop the chair from tipping and keep it stable
  • a tray that:
    • can be adjusted and locked easily and securely in place
    • doesn't expose holes when you remove it – these could trap little fingers
  • smooth, rounded edges
  • five-point safety straps — straps that go over shoulders, around the waist and between the legs (or the capacity to have one of these fitted). Always use the harness.
  • tube ends that are sealed to prevent the child's fingers getting trapped
  • compliance with a British Standard (BS), American Standard (ASTM or CFR) or Australian/New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS).

If the high chair folds, check that it locks into position when opened.

High chair safety

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Second-hand baby walkers

It’s better for baby to have time lying on the floor than to sit them in a walker before they’re developmentally ready.

If you do buy and use a baby walker, think carefully about the safety of your home environment. Other people like parents and siblings share that environment, and it's not always possible to completely remove all other hazards or to focus undivided attention on one child, so if your baby is mobile and gets stronger and quicker, this can become a risk.

Baby walkers must meet product safety standards, even if they're second-hand. The standard sets out requirements for the stability of the walker, its performance over steps, and safety warnings.

Baby walkers

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Second-hand change tables

The safest place to change a child is on the floor. When choosing to use or purchase a change table check:

  • it has safety straps to keep the child secured
  • it has raised sides to prevent the child from rolling off
  • it has no rough sides/edges
  • if the changing area is fabric, ensure it is strong and securely attached
  • any fabric or covering is intact
  • the frame is strong and stable
  • if the table is adjustable check that the table locks firmly in position
  • there are no gaps that may be unsafe. Gaps 30mm - 50mm wide can trap arms or legs; gaps between 85mm - 95mm can trap a baby's head.
Keeping kids safe: Change tables

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Need free support or advice?

Call PlunketLine 24/7 on 0800 933 922